Tropical Cyclone Sidr has devastated the low-lying nation of Bangladesh. At least 496 are dead, 540 missing, and thousands injured. The cyclone's 150 mph winds and storm surge of at least 20 feet destroyed tens of thousands of buildings, and have left over 100,00 people homeless.Still, it could have been much worse:
The eye fortunately came ashore in the Sundarbans Forest, the world's largest forest of mangrove trees. This region is the least populated coastal area in the country (Figure 1). Storm surge levels of 10-20 feet probably affected the provinces of Barguna and Paruakhali, which are more heavily populated. Undoubtedly, the storm surge killed many more people in these provinces, and Sidr's death toll will go much higher. However, Bangladesh has done a much better job providing shelters and evacuating people during cyclones since the 1991 storm. Over 650,000 people did evacuate from Sidr, and it is unlikely the death toll will put the storm on the list of the world's deadliest cyclones of all time.Nevertheless, in the next few days Bangladesh will need assistance; I'll pass on opportunities to help as I come across them.